Spinach Pie, Clamcakes, and Pizza Strips

My friend Brea lives in Missouri. She’s never been to Rhode Island. So when I first mentioned a ‘spinach pie’ in written conversation, she thought I meant spanakopita. Now, I do love spanakopita, especially at the Greek Festival every year, but no, the Rhode Island spinach pie is completely different. It’s more of a calzone, stuffed with spinach, garlic, and sometimes black olives, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.


Another thing my friends across the country might not understand is the Rhode Island clam cake, or clamcake. My friend Jeanette in Texas wasn’t sure what I meant – after all, clams and cake? It’s a fritter, but we don’t call them clam fritters. They’re clam cakes, and they’re meant to be eaten (sometimes dunked) in chowder (the debate over red, white, or clear is for another post). Here’s a recipe in case you want to try making them at home.


Finally, the pizza strip. Everyone knows pizza – and everyone knows there are many varieties and toppings, right? But Rhode Island pizza? Sometimes called party pizza or bakery pizza, you can buy a box of it (sold at room temperature) at the supermarket or a single strip wrapped in plastic from your neighborhood convenience store. It’s bread – focaccia or pizza dough with herbed tomato sauce or paste on top. That’s it. Sometimes a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, but it’s not necessary.

Rhode Island pizza strip
Rhode Island pizza strip

So – what’s your pleasure? And Rhode Islanders, past and present – where are your favorites?

11 thoughts on “Spinach Pie, Clamcakes, and Pizza Strips

  1. All I can say is that I’m hungry all over again, and I had just finished washing the dishes after dinner. Never had spinach pie, but love, love spinach anything. Yum.


  2. Oh Martha your killing me!! I miss RI food. Here is PA they have tomato pie…… Same thing mostly ….different name. You will never find it at a convienance store though, only a few bakeries ( Italian of course). Clam cakes are just something we only can get when we visit and everytime we visit!
    Now don’t get me started on zepoles or chowda!


  3. I love hearing about regional foods! And yes, the spinach pie conversation was an education. This post is making me so hungry, too! It all looks marvelous. I think the most unique regional food here in Springfield, Missouri, is cashew chicken. It’s a “Chinese” dish that originates here (so, in other words, not Chinese at all), characterized by breaded chicken chunks smothered in a sauce akin to peanut sauce and sprinkled with cashews and green onions. It’s not my favorite thing in the world, but I crave it every once in a while.


  4. This all sounds fabulously exotic to me, especially the clam cakes. Martha, if I’m ever in your neck of the woods, please can we go out to a restaurant and gorge on all of the above? xxx


  5. Absolutely clam cakes are made for dumping. Ah, Rocky Point shore dinner hall, how I miss you! Red chowder with clam cakes, white chowder without.

    DePalmieri’s pizza, Killingly St. Johnson. Hands down the best, with Crugnale’s in Nort’ Prov a close second.

    I like spinach and I like calzones, but I don’t eat spinach pies because the green stuff gets caught in my teeth. I cannot abide that. Oh, but you’re adding olives and cheese, you say? You might talk me into it.


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